This Combined Counties Premier league tie was played on a warm, wet and misty September evening.
Tonight’s game has specific significance because both Beckenham Town and AFC Croydon Athletic, had been moved, in the non league restructure this summer, from the Southern Counties East Premier Division, to the equivalent Combined Counties league.
The sides have both made very different starts to the season with Beckenham Town 5th in the league, but with a game in hand on the leaders. Croydon languish in 16th place, with just one win in their opening eight games. Kevin Raynor, the Croydon manager has been at the club since 2016. Jason Huntley is the Beckenham manager, also having a long association with the ambitious club.
I managed to park on the road outside the ground and paid £8 to enter and £2 for the match day programme. The ground boasts a clubhouse, toilets and changing rooms and refreshment stand and bar. There are two small covered seated stands along one side of the pitch and a decent covered and seated stand on the other side.
AFC Croydon Athletic battled hard from the off and Beckenham couldn’t seem to gain any dominance. The most remarkable part of the first half hour was the retirement of the assistant referee with a calf injury.
Just prior to half time Beckenham began to assert and had a chance cleared off the line and. A goal disallowed. At half-time, however, the scores were still tied at 0-0.
On 47 minutes the Beckenham Town right back, Jamie Brown, broke into the box and fired home clinically, to make it 1-0.
The lead lasted just nine minutes before the AFC Croydon Athletic number 7, Jermaine Green, scored the equaliser to bring the game to life.
On 65 minutes a bad challenge, led to the referee issuing a straight red card, for the number 8 for AFC Croydon Athletic, Tijani Eshilokun. This had a real effect on the balance of the game and Beckenham stepped up a gear, to exploit the one player advantage.
The pressure paid dividends for Beckenham when on 77 minutes Tyrone Pink broke on the right and slotted home their second goal, to make it 2-1.
In heavy rain, Beckenham Town cemented a 3-1 victory on 90 minutes, with a well finished goal by Tunde Aderonmu.
The final whistle blew with the AFC Croydon players wondering what might have been if they had kept all their players on the pitch. This was an attritional battle, made more competitive and entertaining by the rain and wet conditions.